The folks at Marvel seemingly pulled off the impossible by turning a stable of mostly mid-tier comic heroes into box-office juggernauts, but now the creative juices are starting to flow the other way.
ICv2 conducted a wide-ranging interview with Marvel Comics Publisher Dan Buckley (seriously, go read it) in which he touches on a whole bunch of topics surrounding the future of the company. One of the most interesting bits? The tangled web, and fine line, they have to walk between the Marvel Comics Universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Everything from The Avengers to Iron Man borrows heavily from the comic canon, but as the film series continues to expand, the writers have (obviously) taken some liberties to fit these beloved stories on the big screen. But that success is also changing the way people view the world of Marvel, and Buckley noted the films are starting to influence the way the characters are used on the page — though that obviously doesn’t mean we’re headed toward a unified film and movie universe:
“So there’s no way that these movies, which are seen by millions of people, are not influencing what we’re doing in the books, but we’re not looking to align continuity between the two storytelling worlds because, frankly, that would be a venture into madness.
People can see what Marvel’s done over the years. It’s pretty complex what we’ve pulled off from a continuity and context standpoint through the last 50 to 75 years. It’s pretty impressive. To try to take comic continuity and tie it into movie continuity? Believe me, I work in both the movies and live-action television shows, and it is hard enough to sync those two things up. I’m not looking to invite 70 books a month into the equation.”
Digging a bit deeper, Buckley talked about one of the most interesting case studies at the intersection of live action and comics — the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and is now being adapted into a comic series set in the Marvel Comics Universe. Confused? We can’t blame you.
Buckley talks about the challenges of taking these MCU characters and fitting parallel versions of them organically into the massive and nuanced comic universe where hundreds of heroes already exist (not to mention some big questions surrounding Skye) and how they could never hope to continue that juggling act by tying everything together:
“So to say that both mediums have influence on each other, yes. They will creatively bleed into each other; people are going to steal good ideas from each other. That’s always going to happen. A good example of that kind of working influence is the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show. For the most part the [Marvel’s Agents of] S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show is a collection of characters that never existed before. Coulson is the only character that existed before that show kicked off (and obviously I’m talking about the core cast members; we’ve also invited some guests). We’ve figured out what those characters meant, how they interacted, how they fit in the Cinematic Universe and how they fit in Marvel as a whole, because we never told the story about Melinda May or Skye or any of these characters.
So we got into that, we’re figuring it out in these books, and the television show operates independently, but as I jokingly said at New York Comic Con, we’re making those guys legit now by launching The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. comic book (see "Mark Waid Writing New 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' Series"). And that book is featuring those characters from the television show, but it’s that group of characters and how they would be in the publishing universe.
Because in the publishing universe there’s all sorts of superheroes around. They’re really who they are, and you can do certain things, so their continuity in that comic universe will be those characters in that universe. But they’re going to act, breathe and operate in the comics universe in the continuity of the comics universe. In the television universe they’ll still be in the Cinematic Universe doing what they’re doing. And we even have to deal with the oddity that’s been revealed in the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show that Skye is actually Daisy. There is a character, Daisy Johnson, that existed in the comics universe that we revealed on the TV show is actually Skye.”
But back to the big question: Are you glad the films are starting to influence the comics, or would you prefer the comics to stay on their own course, with fewer conceptual crossovers?